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Tips for Trekking Through the Roof of the World

Thanks to the new Qinghai-Tibet Railway opening this Saturday, tourists have convenient access to towering mountains, the world's highest lakes and Tibetan antelopes like never before.


Ready to embark on a trip to Tibet? Here are some warnings and tips to ensure you enjoy the vista of landscapes along the way and avoid the hazards.


Know what altitude illness is


Travelers who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2,500 meters may develop altitude sickness, even if they are in excellent health.


Symptoms of acute mountain sickness, the most common form of the disorder, may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia, and loss of appetite, according to online medical reference MDtravelhealth.com.


The site warns that severe cases may be complicated by breathlessness, chest tightness, confusion, lethargy and loss of balance, which could be a sign of brain swelling.


For more information on how to battle altitude sickness, visit www.mdtravelhealth.com.


Never let your guard down


Catching a cold at high altitudes could be disastrous if it's not treated properly. It could impair a person's respiratory tract and immune system, and threaten to develop into a life-threatening lung condition.


Being unaccustomed to the climate and conditions of a new place will make people susceptible to diarrhoea, which can cause major dehydration.


Arm yourself


Bring medicines that are effective for you.


Sunglasses and sunscreen are musts to protect your eyes and skin from the strong sunshine and ultraviolet rays on the plateau.


Wearing a wide-brimmed hat will guard you from the sun. The weather on the plateau changes very fast and unexpectedly, so pack a variety of clothing.


Calm down and relax


Do not engage in strenuous activities, like running or walking too fast in the first few days of reaching the Qinghai-Tibet Pleateau, which is located about 4,000 metres above sea level, where air is extremely thin.


Nervousness may exacerbate your response to the high altitude, so relax. There are oxygen-enriching systems onboard the train to help you breathe more comfortably.


At least one doctor will travel on each passenger train.


There are also well-equipped and staffed hospitals along the way from Xining, Golmud in Qinghai Province, to Lhasa. They are experienced in treating altitude-related diseases.


Mind your food and sleep


Eat low-fat foods and do not have a heavy supper. Alcohol-drinkers should refrain because it could deplete the body of oxygen and even cause bleeding in the digestive tract.


Sleeping with your pillow raised will make breathing easier.


Never hang around alone


Either on the mountainous terrains or in the wilderness, the topology usually looks alike, making it very easy for one to get lost or go astray at stops.


If you feel the urge to wander, go along with other travelers and always take a compass.


Don't touch wild animals


Some animals, like the pika and marmot, may transmit diseases to humans.


Stay away from them.


(China Daily June 28, 2006)


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